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Food Network Star Farewell

So long, fair well, alvedansen goodnight!

Okay, so I am a few days behind on this blog post, and a few weeks behind in life. But in case you watch the show, I was eliminated from Food Network Star this past Sunday. One week farther than last year, but one week short of the goal of winning. This last Sunday, I was invited to be one of the “celebrity chefs” for a Susan G. Komen Polo Fundraiser. It was so exhausting and so rewarding. I have amazing friends who were stellar helpers. Because of my commitment to the event, I wasn’t “present” for my farewell episode. I mean, I will be there in the finale next week, along with the other eliminated finalists, but Sunday marked the end of my journey in this competition. Being a mom, having kids who are out of school for the summer, a small business owner, a food blogger and someone who is trying to keep up with the show… I am behind. So when the show ended, and the event concluded, I have some major life admin to catch up on (that I am still catching up on).

I feel blessed to have had such an influx of kind, supportive and genuinely thoughtful messages through out the show, and with my exit as well. Please do not think that I am ignoring you. I still try to read and respond to everyone. It is just that I am a mommy and a wife before I am a social media message returner. But I really, truly do smile with every message that I read. It is one of the most rewarding parts of this experience. Sharing my food, and my passion for it with others, is such a wonderful thing. But knowing that I inspire young cooks, stay at home moms and other quirky weirdos is truly beautiful. There is no way to overstate how much I appreciate that people feel like they can take the next step because I did. After last season I got so many messages from other military spouses/moms, many of them people that I know. Being a mom is hard. Being a military spouse mom is sometimes extra difficult. So much falls on your shoulders. And sometimes the only thing that holds you up is this community of women. Funny thing is, many of the messages were from women who I found to be incredible. I’m like you’re inspiring. But it turns out somehow I inspire them. I WILL get to your messages.

And just like I am behind on responding to everyone, I am behind on the blog. I apologize. My life has been super busy! So I will, eventually (kids go back to school next week) get the last 3 recipes up on the blog (sweet potato and apple tian, lobster benedict fries and pan seared duck with grilled endive). And since I love it, I will continue to post new recipes on the blog forever and ever and ever. A robot Amy will post them after my human body falls apart. And it will. It already is. I am semi fresh 34 and already deteriorating. Fun times.

Okay… to the show! And then there were three, no four, no three. I made it to the first top three.

But then was cut before the real top three. Lol. I’ve seen the show. Hell, I’ve been on the show. So the existence of Star Salvation was not a huge shocker for any of us, including myself and the other contestants. And in came Jess with more than a little pep in her step. That girl was ready to come back and fight. But I am a fighter too. And Manny and Christian aren’t exactly quitters either. So its Thunder Dome time or something ridiculous like that. We all had 45 minutes to make a signature dish that held some significance in our lives. I chose to do this duck dish. Duck was one of the first dishes on my blog and something that my husband loves.

If you watched the episode, or follow the blog, some of this might be repetitive to you, but you’re getting it anyways. So grab some wine, coffee or whatever and here we go. I did not grow up in a cooking home. Believe it or not, it’s the truth. I worked in restaurants (typically in the front of the house) and was around food. But creating it just kind of became something I was really fascinated with around 18/19. I don’t know why. But once I started I just created stuff. If I didn’t know, I taught to myself. And after a few short years, I was really good at it. I was still missing a lot of the finesse and plethora of knowledge that I have today, but to came naturally to me. Years passed, we threw dinner parties and people would always compliment me and ask me for my recipes. I had just had my second kid and wanted to share my food with more people. But my husband was in the air force and we moved frequently. Plus, I had a 4 month old and a 2 ½ year old… where was I going? So the blog became my figurative food baby. Doing my last dish for Bobby and Giada, I threw back to something that reminded me of the infancy of my blog (which has grown so much by the way).

We are all standing there, our former competitors are in a line and we get to draw their names from a hat. I get Harrison.

Okay, I can’t clarify everything I want to clarify about the show, but I am pretty sure this is allowed. I love Harrison. Harrison is such a sweet boy. Yes boy, he’s 26. Lol. But a mature 26. I said sooooo many positive things about him in that interview room. I had expressed that I really enjoyed cooking with him, that he was one of my first choices, I genuinely like him as a person, how much fun we had. But of course the one thing that gets aired is that last time we cooked together it didn’t go very well. And honestly, the cook went fine, they just didn’t like our pod cast. I still maintain that was a incredible “all green” (the theme of our cook) salad. So to anyone asking me or Harrison why we didn’t like each other, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, he was one of two people I wrote a heart felt good bye letter to.

The cook went really well, and we accomplished everything that I had wanted to. Harrison was a great helper and all of the flavors on my dish were great. I wish (and so did the judges) that my duck skin was a little crisper. But there were numerous compliments about the flavor, the finesse, the cook on the duck, the plating, etc…

When it came to my presentation, there were also a lot of compliments. They noted my pause, and Giada said she wished I looked like I was having more fun. But otherwise I was told I did my best job yet of painting a picture about my love of food and my family. I am not someone who only hears the positive. In fact, I am a bit of the opposite. I have stood next to people who only heard the positive things people said when there were plenty or critiques and they can only glom onto the praise. I hear both and take it. So when I wasn’t picked to make a pilot, I was… shocked.

Do not get me wrong. I am not claiming that I have all the talents in the world, or that the other competitors aren’t deserving. In fact, there are plenty of weeks where I thought I should have gone home over someone else. Looking at the challenge, they did better than me. I can look at things objectively. But that week, I did well. I was surprised. They called Manny’s name first and offered him a pilot. They called Jess’s name next and offered her a pilot.

Then it was down to Christian and me. I knew then it would be him. It may not have been his week. But from the very beginning we all knew he was a serious contender. There is a lot of filming that goes into each episode. Think about it… between 12 and 4 people per episode, all doing their own things and all having their own commentary. That is a lot more film that you can get into a 43 minute tv program. That being said, the viewers don’t get to see it all. And I can tell you that all of us thought Christian absolutely deserved to film a pilot. When my husband was watching the episode, he turned to me and goes,"You knew there, didn't you?" He could tell by looking at my face I knew it would be Christian after they had announced Jess and Manny.

So now what? For those of you boycotting the rest of the show. First, don’t. Its just tv. I would have loved to have won, but I have a really fulfilling life at home. And I am in the train of thought that God has a plan for everything. Plus, I am in the finale. And there is a quirky Amy montage. If that isn’t reason to watch, I don’t know what is. Oh, you’re watching because there might be actual winners who get to do things with their lives. That’s fair…

Don’t worry, there are plenty of things I get to do with my life. As I type, I have two children at my feet building forts underneath my dining room table where I do a lot of my writing for my blog. One is an indestructible velociraptor who is hiding from his mean daddy who wants to eat him. (This is make believe, I promise Joshua’s real daddy has never tried to eat him.) And the other is his road runner friend who is helping the baby dinosaur evade his dad with a pew-pew gun. I can’t make this shit up people. The dinosaur kid just crowed like a rooster. He is one confused dino kid. “My daddy is dead now. My mom just put invisible potion in his mouth that tasted like hot sauce. It was very expensive. He looked like a zombie and then he died. That is how it happened.” Should I get back to the blog post, or would you like to continue the saga of my children’s fictitious living room adventure?

See, mommy life is very rewarding. So what is next? I have actually been crazy busy. The kids are out of school and I am trying to cut back so I can enjoy real life. But catering, private chef services, turning my house into a food truck once a week have all provided me a really steady flow of business. Last year after the show, when everyone lost interest, moved on to the next thing, etc… it was really difficult. I had this image of my blog following and some aspects of my life changing in a much larger way. This year, I returned home happy and at peace with it all. Would I loved to have won? Absolutely! I had done so well during Comeback Kitchen and had such high hopes for how Food Network Star would end. Who doesn’t want their own platform on the Food Network, sharing something they love with other people?!?!

And I love sharing with people. I don’t just love the food (and I love it plenty). I love the social aspect of it all.

And I would have been damn good at it. That is the thing. I have received so many messages about believing in myself. One of the last things that Giada said to me was that I “have it” but that I need to do some inner work “in here”; as she motioned to her ginormous breasts. Sorry Giada, I am 34, I don’t think they’re getting any bigger. Then again, there is the chance she wasn’t referring to my little boobs, but what is inside of me. If you know me in real life, you know that isn’t a problem. I am plenty comfortable talking to and in front of others. In fact, I have little issue being the center of attention. And when it comes to my culinary ability, I am also wildly confident in that. I know I can cook. I know I am self made and have a natural talent. I am not saying this to brag, but there isn’t a real confidence issue here. Sure, I wish I had my 23 year old body back. But otherwise I am not uncomfortable in my own skin. At all.

If you have never been in a semi long term environment like Food Network Star, then let me say it really is soooooo much harder than it looks. I have done it twice now (don’t judge me) and I haven’t met a person yet who does not feel the exact same way. I can’t get into a ton of details. But just imagine you’re not with your family and in a fairly isolated environment where your day to day is the competition. I know it doesn’t sound daunting. But it is. I have a very type a performance mode. I mean, I am silly, artistic, right brained and a little nuts. But I am also type A. So if I want to do my best next time, I am going to analyze what I did, correct it and try to make it better. This does not mean that I think I am bad. Also, I am a gracious loser and a hesitant winner. I am not the kind of person who boasts about or feels entitled to recognition. Yes, I want it, badly. But I am not going to sound trumpets about it. I guess I am saying don’t take my self deprecating humor and my over analytical personality as actual self doubt. (And I have a really morbid and cutting humor. I used to use it towards others in my youth. I could cut you down pretty quick. I thought I was terribly funny. But it turned out to also be hurtful, whether that was my intention or not. As such, I have tried pretty hard not to make sarcastic remarks at others’ expense. So now I just make fun of myself and everyone wins. Lol)


So very shortly I got the call to do Comeback Kitchen I had posted the following post to my Instagram:

I made a corner". From the day that I started my blog, and every day since then, Caviar and Crayons has been about "making corners". When I am not in my kitchen cooking, I often find my self sitting at my dining room table doing the rest of my blog work on my laptop. My business documents, blog props and catering equiptment are also scattered through out my home in various closets and "corners". Since I so often find myself in this "corner", I figured I might as well make it mine, take ownership of it, and of course make it cute and organized.

Being a mom (a stay at home mom) and a military spouse, my days are filled with raising my kids, running errands, folding laundry, cooking dinner for my family, going to the gym and every other mundane activity you can think of. My business is found entirely in "corners". It is secondary to all of the other lives/responsibilities around me.

Do not interpret this as I am an island, independent of support and it all falls on my shoulders. Although it often feels that way at times (late hours, overwhelmed by business and home life tasks, balancing it all, a husband who works, children, etc...), I am quite supported. The laptop that I do all my work on was a Valentine's Day gift from my husband a few years back when I had just started the blog. He plans ahead and does his best to take leave when I provide enough notice for catering/private chef work; so that someone is with the kids. When I was at Food Network Star, my husband, our family and friends made sure that life went on without me.(I didn't even know that was possible. Haha.) I have an awesome family. I have awesome friends.

And my culinary adventures are still found in corners, even as a grow as a small business. I am busy. I am exhausted. I don't like to give myself enough credit. Sometimes I wonder if my endeavors are worth it. Will the fruit of my labors ever amount to some life goal that I haven't even pinned down yet? Am I good enough? There are a million answer-less questions that swarm through my head. I feel perpetually on the cusp. But I will be here in my "corner", chipping away at it day by day, working it in when and where I can.


So peace out trout. Hopefully my face will grace the Food Network Screen again (a girl can dream). But in the meantime I will just be cooking my butt off, building my business, loving my family and friends and living in Hawaii doing really really awesome stuff!!!

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